Review: ‘The Spectacular Now’ Exhibits the Potential of a Classic

By Neha Aziz

Find “The Spectacular Now” in a movie theater near you.

“The Spectacular Now” is not another teen movie. Yes, it has some of the classic elements — booze, sex and parties — but it is so much more than that. The acting is natural. The two leads, Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, have magnetic chemistry. Both actually look like they belong in high school (no 30-year-old actors playing 17-year-olds here). Director James Ponsoldt knows exactly how to make romantic moments tender and sweet versus overly sexual and raunchy — a rarity in Hollywood. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Tim Tharp and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer), “The Spectacular Now” is a film that is destined to become a classic.

At first glance, Sutter (Teller) seems to have it all. A super hot girlfriend, popularity, not to mention, he oozes with charm and charisma. His quick quips are enough to make any girl swoon. A young John Cusack, if you will. He has a lot going for him but he lives in the “now,” not the future, which for a high school senior means college. He’s clever (but not a good student) and has a propensity for reading people beyond what is on the surface. Every day is a great day for Sutter Keely. So, where’s the problem? He rarely is seen without a spiked soda, or a flask. Sutter isn’t an alcoholic by any means, but the dude likes his buzz.

One night, Sutter’s girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) breaks up with him because of his lack of priorities and ambition. Sutter goes on an all-night bender and wakes up on his classmate’s lawn unaware as to how he got there, or where is car his. The lawn belongs to plain-jane Aimee Finecky (Woodley), who thanks her lucky stars there isn’t a dead teenager outside her house. Sutter accompanies Aimee on her paper route, so he can find his car.

Aimee essentially went through high school without anyone giving her a second glance or thought. She is sincere, hopeful and unbelievably honest, and you can’t help but fall in love with her. Sutter sees past her shy demeanor and gets to know the real Aimee Finecky — the girl who loves science fiction, who is selfless and wants to live on a ranch one day.

The pair enjoys each other’s companionship, learning more and more about each other every day. Sutter tells his best friend that it’s purely platonic, and he only needs some tutoring in his math class — that’s it. However, their relationship grows and, with each other’s support and guidance, they battle their personal demons.

There are times when Sutter and Aimee’s relationship is destructive, poisonous even, but there are also times when the duo’s dynamic is undeniably sweet, and you root for them.

“The Spectacular Now” documents Aimee and Sutter’s journey, as they deal with adolescence, family, and the uncertain reality of what the future brings them.

Grade: A-

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